Back Injury

A back injury may refer to trauma to the structures of the spine and associated structures, or it may involve degenerative conditions that affect the spine, such as Foraminal Stenosis and bulged or protruded discs.

A back injury may refer to either a trauma (accident) which caused the structures of the spine to become damaged, or damage that occurs to the bones and tissues of the spine due to a degenerative disease or process. back pain itself if a symptom of a disease or back injury; it is does not describe a specific condition or cause of pain. Back pain is pain in the back that is experienced as a result of a back injury that occurs in the vertebral bones, muscles that connect to the spine, joints, and soft tissues (ligaments and tendons). Because the structures that are related to the movement and stability of the spine are so interconnected to other structures in the musculoskeletal system, a back injury to one part of the spine may cause pain in a far distant joint, muscle, or structure. When an injury to one section of the spine or body causes pain in another area, this type of pain is known as referred pain. Between 80-95% of all people have back pain at some point in their life.

In order to properly diagnose and treat a back injury, doctors will want to know to know several things. First, doctors will want to determine is the back injury is serious and if it requires immediate medical intervention. The most serious problems associated with back pain are symptoms of disease outside the musculoskeletal system. These diseases which would require immediate medical attention include bowel or bladder incontinence, or severe numbness or loss of functioning in the arms and legs. If vertebral fractures are suspected, the patient may also get immediate medical attention to assure that no damage to the spinal cord occurs. If the results of medical imaging or blood tests cause doctors to suspect tumors of the spine, the doctor will order immediate testing to determine if benign or metastatic tumors are involved. Patients with an established medical history of cancer will likely make doctors more sensitive to testing for tumors of the spine.

Along with eliminating a patient's injury to be the result of a serious medical condition, doctors will ask patients how long their symptoms have been occurring and the severity of the symptoms. Doctors will also ask patients if they have any associated symptoms to their back pain or lower back pain. Associated symptoms to pain include stinging pain, sharp pain, numbness in the extremities, referred pain, weakness, burning, and tingling. Associated symptoms such as numbness, burning, and tingling indicate that either the nerve roots or nerve branches supplying that body part are being squeezed. Squeezing of the nerve roots is known as nerve root compression. Back conditions which may cause nerve root compression include Foraminal stenosis and bulged or protruded discs.

The types of diagnostic tests ordered to evaluate a back injury and the treatments offered to the patient, may be effected by the type and level of the back condition. The levels of pain - acute back pain and chronic back pain - refer to how long the patient has been suffering. Patients with pain from less than a week to 3-6 months are assessed as having acute back pain, and patients with pain lasting for more than 6 months are usually labeled as having chronic pain.

A patient's type of pain refers to the parts of the body where the pain originates. Regardless of what causes the injury, all pain conditions involve the nerves of the peripheral nervous system, which either initiate or relay pain signals to the spinal cord and brain. When the initiation of the pain signal begins with structures outside the nervous system, the pain is called somatic, or nociceptive pain. When the nerves fire pain signals on their own, the pain is called neuropathic, or nerve pain.